We had 2 weeks downtime between trips to prepare to leave for Europe. But Oregon Coast trip was interrupted with the Sept. 13 (anticipated) death of Dave's mother who lived in the Assisted Living residence across the street from our home. She had been on hospice for 3 weeks, so we knew her time was ending soon – but it still took us by surprise. All arrangements were in place so we decided, with the advice of Hospice and the mortuary, to finish enjoying the Oregon Coast and come home as scheduled on the 15th. Little did we realize how all-consuming it would be to "finish well" with Alice's death. It's the usual things - canceling Social Security and Pension, finalizing arrangements with the Mortuary & Cemeteries, obituaries for newspapers, contacting friends and relatives, etc, etc. She didn't want a memorial service, so we decided to do a "Party". Alice always loved partying!! A simple cake-n-ice cream event turned into yesterday's 2-hour "Alice's Going Away Party" at Eagle Meadows. It went off without a hitch, thanks to lots of good help from Trista, Tia and a couple lady-friends from Eagle Meadows (our gambling buddies -- we take them to Wildhorse periodically, and we all have fun investing in the Casino...).
The Eagle Meadows Residents and Staff seemed to enjoy the diversity of Alice's party. We tied a purple balloon at the chair where she used to sit. (Alive loved anything purple.) Before we served the chocolate and/or white cakes we poured their choice of sparkling cider or wine – then Dave took the mike and did a 'talking obituary' – and then we all toasted Alice. Then to the cake and ice cream. Some could come to the table for self-serve, but most needed table-service, so Trista took care of that as our friends Cindy and Tom Angotti served the cake and ice cream. Of course serving took a long time because of the table-service-delivery, so that kept people focused for awhile. They are all used to waiting in the dining room . . . While that was going on, Julia circulated with colorful Mardi Gras necklaces - placing one around each attendee's neck, thanking them for coming. Then we invited all the ladies to come over to another long table to choose from a pre-assembled Ziploc bags containing some of Alice's jewelry. Alice had TONS of jewelry and clothes. 2 3/4 years ago we left almost all the clothes behind for Goodwill in Alameda CA, but we brought all the jewelry. I repurposed the gold and an amazingly beautiful 1.5 carat diamond by having a lovely ring designed for myself (the diamond was in a very ordinary ring, in the bottom of a metal file box . . . it almost got thrown away in Alameda when we were going through mountains of "stuff", clearing out her apartment). We have given . . and given . . . and given away the costume jewelry -- and there was still enough remaining to make 54 nice bags of at least 2-items each (bracelet + matching earrings, brooch + matching earrings, necklace + matching ring, etc, etc.). It was a free-shopping extravaganza - and for some of the old folks, it took forever for them to choose. In the end, there were a half-dozen bags and an assortment of earrings remaining, so those go to Trista to share with her staff and friends.
Dave had put together a really nice assortment photos on tagboard so we placed the boards + other large photos on a long table - all labeled to explain. Trista scanned several other pix, and we had that slideshow going on an electronic photo frame. The people were really interested in the pix. It's an interesting phenomena -- by the time most people end up in Assisted Living, their "history" is essentially lost with memory issues and illnesses, so seeing a person's life in photos proved very interesting to the residents. We've found it disconcerting that there is no closure for when the residents die or move out (generally to higher-level-care facilities) – they just disappear and no one knows what happened. Alice had lived there longer than most of the present residents; she was happy-go-lucky, teasing and kidding people, so she was well liked by residents and staff. So this was a nice way to provide some closure for at least one former resident.
After serving cake, we circulated with a large bowl of taffy (Alice's favorite) and "Alice's promotion certificates" - little life-story/obituary printed on a half-sheet of parchment, rolled like a scroll and tied with purple ribbon. Both had been on the cake table, but as I suspected most people missed them, so it was a nice oopportunity to visit with everyone, going person-to-person make sure they'd received both, and offered them more taffy. It was so interesting -- some folks just automatically took a handful, but most had to be encouraged to take more than one. Character shows. We had no deadline – and neither did they, Dave and I we ended up getting everything cleared away and carted back home around 5 PM. We put away few things – and then we collapsed!
Now that we can refocus, We're going to try to get everything in suitcases today so we know where we are with luggage. Our leisurely two weeks between the coast trip and Europe turned out to be five short days before we blast off. But at least we have most of the death-n-dying issues behind us now. Dave still has to make arrangements for the interment of the ashes, and has a few death certificates to file. But some of that can wait, as we've done the preliminary notifications to get her Social Security and pension stopped. Anyone who has dealt with an immediate-family death knows there are just lots of loose ends to wrap up. The good part is that it also provides closure -- and we think Alice went out in style!